Sometimes, stories about your own family--even family members you've never met yourself--can provide the seeds for stories.
Personally, I don't drink, but there have been a lot of alcoholics in my family (which, in turn, is part of the reason I don't drink...I don't want to risk having inherited that particular gene). In fact, whenever my Grandma would tell me a story about one of my uncles, many of whom had passed on before I was born, the stories would often start with the phrase, "There was this one time when your Uncle Whoever got drunk and..."
One story that always stood out in my mind went something like this, "One time your Uncle Marvin got drunk and said that he was going to open up a restaurant called the Bloody Bucket, but he never did." Apparently old Uncle Marvin, upon recovering his senses, realized that the restaurant game wasn't for him and that such a name would certainly be a business-killer. However, that concept--giving such a bizarre name to a restaurant--stuck with me. Long before I had a plot to go with it, I decided that it would make for a neat story title and story setting.
As for the story itself, the idea of guilt over a loved one's passing is also something that my family has been familiar with through the years. When I was ten years old, our house caught fire. My mom, little brother, and I were the only ones there at the time, as my father was working graveyard shift. Mom woke me up at something like 4 AM to tell me that the house was on fire. She told me that she would get my brother if I would go next door to get help. However, living outside the city limits, our "next door neighbor" didn't live as close by as they might have had we lived in town. So, while I was getting help, my mom and brother got trapped in the house and died of smoke inhalation. For a long time, I wrestled with guilt, wondering what might have happened had I been able to get help sooner.
In years since, God has shown me that it wasn't my fault, that nothing I could have done differently would have produced a different result. However, I will never forget what that guilt (kept secret for many years) felt like. Ultimately, I decided that such guilt and the deliverance from it, couched in some Peretti-like spiritual warfare, would make an appropriate driving thrust for "The Bloody Bucket." For that reason, this may be the most personal story for me in "Zero Hour."
Thanks for reading, and Philippians 4:13.--SMS